November 27, 2019|By Tiffany Razzano, Interview with Leroy Bridges
Using Data to Engage Pinellas County Arts & Culture Visitors
While Pinellas County beaches have historically been “the calling card for our destination,” says Leroy Bridges, vice president of digital marketing and communications for Visit St. Pete/Clearwater (VSPC), “Today we are finding that more visitors are drawn to the area’s arts and cultural offerings than ever before.”
As the arts explode in Pinellas, we need to understand who these arts & culture visitors are if we want to engage this demographic of travelers. “If you’re going to be able to attract more of that person, you need to know who that person really is,” Bridges explains. “We’re drilling more into that.”
Each month, VSPC conducts Visitor Profile Studies, breaking down Pinellas County tourists into several demographics – The Arts & Culture Visitor, The Beach Go-er, The Family Traveler and The Affluent Visitor. These reports are available on the VSPC website for anyone to use!
These studies are “easy, useful tools from a marketing perspective” says Bridges, “And they are available to anyone. Businesses for example can use the reports to create a marketing plan or decide where to spend their ad dollars. Facebook in particular makes it easy to create cost effective ad campaigns that target specific audiences.”
According to the VSPC 2018 Visitor Profile Study, the Arts & Culture Visitor stays an average of 2.6 days when visiting Pinellas County and spends an average of $80.73 per person daily.
The data also show that Arts & Culture Visitors tend to visit in the late summer and fall, which is generally the slowest time of year in Pinellas County for tourism. So, says Bridges, “We see a lot of opportunity there to inspire more people to travel here during the fall.”
While 10 percent of Arts & Culture Visitors are international tourists and many visit from other states (predominantly Illinois and New York) the majority of visitors to Pinellas County come from within Florida. “We like to spend a lot of time talking about our New York visitors and our out-of-state visitors, but the reality is Florida is our bread and butter,” he says. “That’s where most of our visitation comes from. Whether we’re talking about the I-4 corridor, Southern Florida, the East Coast of the state or Jacksonville, Florida is it.”
The “key to arts marketing,” he adds is promoting this area as an arts destination and community. “And what makes this destination vibrant. Hotels are starting to get this, too,” Bridges says.
We are learning that the Arts & Culture Visitor is very different from the other types of tourists traveling to Pinellas County. While other visitors are drawn to the region’s beaches and scenic beauty, Arts & Culture Visitors focus on arts-specific events and attractions followed by great dining. “For the Arts & Culture Visitor, it isn’t about the beach.” Bridges states, “Instead, they’re looking for a unique collection of experiences. We need to make sure we’re engaging them too, and we believe there’s a lot of opportunity among that audience for artists and arts-based businesses.”
“The marriage of the beaches’ natural beauty with area arts and culture attractions is what makes Pinellas County such a unique destination,” he adds. “While other areas might also boast beautiful beaches, they don’t have the same arts offerings as Pinellas. You can only go to Naples so many times. Sure, you can go to the beach there, but here you’re able to experience and talk about the arts and craft beer alongside beaches. And that makes it more likely they’ll come back again. We’re not just a one-note vacation.”
Visit St. Pete/Clearwater’s Visitor Profile Studies can be found online here.